As the omicron surge subsides and policymakers face pressure to chart the next stage of the pandemic, a growing number of Democratic governors are lifting mask mandates and other public health measures. While most Democratic voters still think it’s too early to roll back the mask rules, a rising share of voters say they’re ready to turn the page, according to a new Morning Consult/Politico survey.
What you need to know
- Over the past two weeks, as more states and localities dropped their mask mandates, a growing share of Democrats have said it’s the right time to do so, though 57 percent said it’s still too early to drop the mandates. And while a 39 percent plurality of voters overall believe it’s too early to sunset mask mandates, 55 percent are split between thinking it’s the right time (24 percent), it should’ve already happened (15 percent) or such requirements never should’ve been put in place (16 percent).
- Republicans are divided on the timeline to roll back mask mandates, and haven’t seen the same shifts in opinion as voters overall and Democrats have since earlier this month. They’ve been consistently less likely to back mask and vaccine requirements for things like indoor dining and entertainment, and many GOP-led states already didn’t have mask mandates.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is weighing whether to update its local mask guidance, but Hawaii is now the only state holding off on plans to shed its indoor mask requirement. That could soon change, with Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) saying last week that he’s working with health officials to determine “when the time is right” to drop the mandate.
What you need to know
- Voters remain divided on how local officials should approach masks going forward, with half of Democrats saying they should be worn indoors while the pandemic is ongoing, even if there are few new cases in the area. Virtually the same share of Republicans, meanwhile, said there shouldn’t be any more mask mandates.
- Similarly, 71 percent of Democrats said local leaders should encourage both COVID-19 vaccinations and masks in indoor public spaces, while a 43 percent plurality of Republicans said they shouldn’t promote masks or vaccinations.
- Local leaders are already eyeing the next phase of the crisis. Last week, for example, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) unveiled a plan to treat COVID-19 as a manageable endemic risk, after officials ended the state’s mask mandate for fully vaccinated people.
The Feb. 12-13, 2022, and Feb. 19-21, 2022, surveys were conducted among representative samples of 2,005 registered voters each, with unweighted margins of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.